Struggling Eastern Cape school told to take in more pupils

Funds for school feeding run out

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Picture of students in class with broken chairs
Chairs in a classroom at Bubele High School in Cofimvaba District are broken. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

Bubele High School near Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, built by parents in 1994, was already battling last year. Then the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) closed another school in the area, leaving Bubele to accommodate additional students.

Teachers say toilets are leaking, ceilings and door latches are broken, and the only water available is in two tanks which often run out.

When GroundUp visited the school the smell from the pit toilets was unbearable.

School Governing Body member Bangiwe Lange said the toilets had been built in the same year as the schoolrooms, in 1994. “Look at the condition. One day they will collapse while there is a student inside,” she said.

Only 6% of matric students at the school, which is in Bolotwa in the Cofimvaba District, passed in the 2015-16 year.

Teachers say the Eastern Cape Department of Education promised to build new toilets, and even asked the principal to hire people for the job but no one knows what happened to that project.

Bubele High School is still waiting for new toilets. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

Lange said the school had been built by parents, with help from a church, in 1994. She said at the time there was no high school in the area, and children were forced to walk 15km to the nearest school.

“Each house donated R200 and the rest was added by a missionary who visited the area years ago.

“We managed to build five classrooms,” said Lange.

For years, she said, there was no maths or physics teacher until parents used their own money to pay teachers. “We used to pay R70 each then give the teachers R4,500 each a month - but bear in mind these are qualified teachers.” she said. Most did not stay long.

Last year the school had only four teachers for grades eight to 12.

Then after parents involved the media, the ECDoE took action, hiring two more teachers to and promising to add another.

But, said Lange, the department had closed Vuyani High School two kilometres away and sent all the students to Bubele High. She had thought the department would provide additional furniture, classrooms and funds for the feeding scheme but that had not happened.

As a result, some of the students went hungry.

“Food gets finished before the month ends,” said Lange. “We complained about this at the department and they promised to solve it, but till now nothing. Even now there’s no food at the kitchen and we have grade 12s who are attending morning classes, they have to eat,” she said.

There was also a shortage of classrooms and some students had to wait outside the classroom for the previous class to finish.

One of the teachers confirmed this, adding that the school had asked the ECDoE to build more classrooms or send mobile classrooms but had been told that the department had no money to build extra classes.

The school has only 147 students, but teachers said they could not combine classes because the syllabus was different.

Lange said, “We are facing a lot of challenges in this school and we do not know who else can help us if the department of education is failing to help us.”

Classrooms at Bubele High School need attention. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

Xolile Khohlakala, who deals with safety at Bubele, told GroundUp that most of the door latches at the school were not working and criminals have access at the school.

He said recently Bolotwa police had found stolen goods hidden in one of the broken ceilings in the grade 10 classroom. In the grade 9 classroom there were wires hanging from the roof, he said.

“This is a very sad situation, you find learners who are willing to learn but there are obstacles facing the school,”he said.

By Monday afternoon the Eastern Cape Department of Education had not responded to questions sent on Friday. The response will be added when it is received.

TOPICS:  Education Government

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